Sociopathy and the men of Billions….

Hey all, I’m not sure about you but I’ve been addicted to Billions, the show on Showtime with Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti?  This is a show about two bulls locked in a battle with U.S Attorney, Chuck Rhodes played by Giamatti attempting to put Wall Street billionaire Bobby Axelrod, played by Lewis away (somehow) for securities fraud.   I thought Billions was going to be a scripted tv-show based on displaying the ‘gluttony’ of the wealthy 1%, but with my two favorite actors, it is so SO much more.  It is about wealth, class, inequality, politics, the intricate and convoluted weaving between politics and Wall Street, who has power over whom and the psychology of it all.  It really could be a character or psychological study of our financial and political times of today.  And I F-ing love it!

This was me the other night watching the prelude to the season 2 finale :

I was on pins and needles during Sunday night’s episode, with the many twists and turns like a cloak and dagger mystery. And as usual, I look through the lens of psychology when looking at some tv-shows and this one is so brilliant, that it keeps me guessing about the characters’ psychology/sociopathy scale. It’s no secret that the Wall Street, Political, Law, Business, Marketing/Media industries and high-level individuals have a propensity to score higher than average on the narcissism, sociopath index scales (Hare, R. Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, 1999;  Konnikova, M. The Confidence Game, 2016).  Besides the current real-life administration, Billions provides a glimpse into the psychology.

Again, there are many elements that Billions addresses but I’m most interested in the psychology of various characters, especially the main characters. Both men are…complex, like all of us.  Life is complicated and so are you.

Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) head of Axe Capital has acquired his billions through gut instinct, knowledge, bribery and some other not so nice behavior.  He wants to win, to be the top dog.  Winning and acquiring (money, companies) are his thing.  He makes the plays, the decisions and manipulates the world financial market in his favor.  Needless to say, making these decisions while increasing his coffers, will destitute the many others that have no face and he doesn’t lose sleep over it.  Limitations are meant to be crossed.  Bobby also has a henchman that finds other people’s weakness’ or soft spots to exploit or threaten them to his favor when needed.  Yet, Axelrod has been faithfully monogamous to his wife of 15 years with telling one lie in those 15 years. Despite being able to buy just about anything and anyone, Axelrod isn’t out with other women, escorts, strippers and the like until the wee hours of the morning nor does he lie to his wife.  So, by all accounts, he is loyal, monogamous, doesn’t use substances and is honest (direct) with his wife.  The relationship seems to be his rock, his stability despite his love for making money and besting others, but does he love his wife or does he see her as a possession or his property?  What’s interesting about this, is that a narcissist, sociopath will mistreat and abuse his/her spouse yet they are dependent upon them, so when the spouse has had enough and wants to leave, the narcissistic/sociopath will become unglued and attempt to ‘destroy’ their partner any way they can.

Verdict so far:  He has some deficiencies and may exhibit characteristics but Bobby Axelrod isn’t a full-blown sociopath.   What gives it away is: Although he compartmentalizes his behavior, he isn’t reckless with his relationship, he doesn’t lie or cheat on his wife nor does he engage in substances.  You see his entitlement through what he can purchase, but that entitlement hasn’t carried over to his marriage-yet. Personally, I’ve been waiting for how Axelrod will let off some steam in his personal life because he is very well-controlled and well-controlled people can’t do that for too long before some (possibly deviant) behavior arises.  It’s like a politician that looks squeaky clean on the outside proclaiming the importance of family values (monogamy and anti-gay) but finds himself trolling for men in a public bathroom or a politician who made it his goal to clean up the prostitution industry in his city only to procure the services of an escort on a regular basis.

Which brings us to Chuck Rhodes, another complex character.  Giamatti’s character is a U.S. Attorney fighting for justice for the underdog with political ambitions in season 2.   He’s the highest of the law in his jurisdiction, so what kind of pressure do you think he’s under on a daily basis?  Well, to let off some steam, Rhodes enjoys S&M Bondage with him submitting, taking orders and being ‘punished’ with pain – by his wife. That was their agreement, otherwise if news got out, it would cost him his position.   Having worked with and heard many, many things as a counselor which no longer draws a surprise, this was a brilliant characterization by the Billions writers and pretty spot on.  I can understand it, psychologically.  High pressure, high level jobs and having to perform (profits) as well as having multiple professional and personal responsibilities on your shoulders, and the power or wealth that comes with the position wields a lot of stress for one individual and can be exhausting.  It’s no wonder that he would enjoy being dominated and told what to do.  What a breather that must be for him to submit to the will of another albeit momentarily.   Psychologically speaking on this subject, the backstory can go anywhere.

On to sociopathy for Rhodes.  Rhodes set Bobby up at the literal financial expense of losing his Trust (worth millions), his father placing all of his liquidity (is that a word?) as well as Rhodes’ friend, Ira selling his shares back to his law firm and just about quit his job.  Should I put friend in quotes? Probably.  Rhodes knew what he was doing.  He served his father and his friend up like a platter of sashimi for his own needs, to ruin Axelrod.  Rhodes knew or at least hoped that Axelrod would do something to make the stock plummet.  This is where Axelrod’s bribing comes in. He bribed a chemist for vials of a bio-hazardous material that would leave the recipient with stomach issues for a week, kind of like Chipotle.  Axelrod also paid people to ingest this hazardous material while drinking the Ice Juice.  Come to find out, Rhodes was the brainchild of this sting.  In addition to flanking his father and his friend, Rhodes seemed to use his wife’s position as Axelrod’s company therapist to gain information.   After Wendy, Rhodes’ wife visits him at his office to warn him (btw- she risked violating confidentiality) that Axelrod is shorting the stock and to get out of the stock ASAP, Chuck treated her like the enemy and spoke to her with such condescension and disdain that he left her head spinning. Where the hell did that come from?

Verdict so far:  Even though Rhodes fights for the underdog, does he do it for justice because it’s the right thing to do or does he do it to win, to gain in his position?  Since Rhodes masterminded this whole sting (he lied), knowing and not warning anyone close to him such as his father and friend about not investing their life savings, and using his wife for information to fulfill his own needs and desires without thought of the devastation to the one’s closest to him or his marriage, I’d say this is calculated and reckless behavior.  So, I’d say he’s pretty high on the narcissism/sociopath/machiavellian scale.

Sociopathy and narcissism are fluid and progressive depending on circumstances and environment, they’re not born, they’re made.  Power and money are great aphrodisiacs and will bloat the ego exponentially.  Are these two characters simply blinded by pride, revenge, and winning?  The writers do a great job with walking that fine line and they do an even better job with no clear answers of who the  ‘good guy’ vs ‘bad guy’ really is.

This show.  So. Damn. Good.

Trump as Trigger

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I have wondered for a few months how many people, specifically women are triggered by Trump and his behavior.  Come to find out, quite a few people.  Colleagues, other counselors, myself,  have utilized our own therapy sessions to discuss his behavior, as well a number of my female clients have utilized their sessions in such a way.  A waste of time?  No.  Because Trump is a trigger and a stand-in for the men that have sexually assaulted, manipulated, lied to (consistently), and marginalized women (and men).  Trump can represent husbands, boyfriends, dates, colleagues, friends, acquaintances and even family members.  To me, Trump is the narcissist that I’ve dated and I literally thank God for not signing up to that in any long-term committed way, but for my clients he is a resemblance of their abuser (verbal, emotional, sexual).

Trump and his behavior which are on full display 24/7 are stand-in’s for the way women (not all) have been mistreated and abused.  Women watching Trump for months felt something familiar yet uncomfortable. He seemed harmless in the beginning because we knew he was an entertainer, entertaining.  Over time, you can literally see textbook narcissism unfold.  Then came the multiple sexual assault allegations and boundary violations towards Trump.  It was this that really capped feelings of fear, anger, and disgust for my clients.   Yes, he’s Trump but he’s also a stand-in to the women (and men) that have experienced some form of abuse, assault or master manipulation.   What they’ve been witnessing is a similar timeline to their own experience.  It was either out right abuse of power (molestation) or it crept up on you first through the courtship of charm, the management of the image, the promises, which gave way to self-aggrandizement, manipulations, name-calling, lies, lack of accountability, inability to say “I’m sorry,” tantrums and intimidation tactics.

Umm..Did you see the second debate?  I was waiting for Trump to take out a knife from his coat jacket and stab Hillary in the back.  A man lurking behind, pacing back and forth.  Intimidation tactic.   I don’t know about you, but as a woman, I was uncomfortable, even knowing he wouldn’t do any physical harm. Being a woman, we automatically go there, ‘Am I safe?’  We think about those things, our safety in the most innocuous places.  Trump reminds us big time that we still have to.

Women are reminded by his words that we are objects, there for the pleasure and taking of men.  Again, we’ve heard the blaming, name calling, tantrums, manipulations, lies, lack of remorse or apology, and lack of accountability when called out.  This is all for his benefit. We’ve also seen and heard the self-aggrandized entitlement.  Entitlement so big and entrenched, that he knew, felt and stated that whatever his behavior, he was untouchable and definitely not the problem.   Imagine this behavior in a one on one relationship.  Would you want to be in this relationship? What would you call this relationship? Healthy?  Abusive? Loving? Normal?  Selfish?

I was going to wait to discuss this when sharing about disorganized relational (attachment) style and narcissism, but with so many people affected in my personal and professional circles, I am writing about this first.  I have seen the pain, anger, disgust and all around stress that is taking their toll on our well-being.  Some have withdrawn for self-protection not knowing what to say or who to trust, because sharing the impact has brought the dismissive responses from friends and family (‘don’t waste your time on that,’ or ‘don’t let it affect you,’ ‘don’t take it so personally,’) or it becomes a political monologue excusing his behavior and marginalizing one’s experience.  All the things that were done to women before.

Not talking about this, about the stress this election induces because we don’t want to offend any of our family or friends because of varied political views is the new dirty little secret.  In the spirit of Joan Rivers, ‘Can We Talk?’ about this now that it’s been confirmed recently how much stress this election cycle is placing upon each other?

The good thing about this national stand-in, is that women (people in general) can heal if they’ve been triggered by Trump as well as we become well-versed in the Art of the Con.  Because of Trump, people will be able to identify what being taken advantage of, manipulated, objectified, and eschewed looks and sounds like. There is also a great opportunity to address the misogyny and double standards that women face, if only we crossed political affiliations and had an open conversation where we really listened to each other, as people.

Something tells me that if a woman achieves POTUS status, then we will ample opportunity to address the latter.

 

Be well.

 

 

 

Attachment Theory Explained through the Senses- Part 2

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Attachment theory is based on the connection between parent and child. How we connect to our parents can impact how we connect as adults to partner’s as well as impact our long term health and well-being. Part 1 discussed the importance of eye contact and touch in development.  Here’s part 2.

Voice (Tone/language).

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Often when we speak to our baby (babies), we often use a rhythmic or melodic tone.  This also builds a comforting connection with your baby because it is soothing. Tone is important obviously, because tone can also be rage filled, angry, or aggressive etc and your child’s nervous system will pick up on that too as it is stress inducing.

Language-

Reading to your baby/child has been the foundation for early childhood education.  Every teacher knows that reading and engaging your child in conversation helps to engage your child’s brain, creating more neural networks (brain pathways). In doing so, it increases your child’s learning ability.  There have been studies regarding the differences in learning abilities of children from affluent environments and less affluent environments, with children from affluent environments flourishing in school while children from the less affluent environments have difficulties excelling.  How does this happen?  There are various layered reasons or contributing factors as to why children from more affluent environments have been found to have greater learning abilities, but I’m only going to address one aspect contributing to this issue: Stress.  Stress impacts your connection with your child.  Stress impacts every connection in your life, period.

Here’s how stress can impact the child’s learning abilities.  A parent(s) from a lower socio-economic situation is concerned with the basic survival of their family.  In addition to raising their child and worrying about their well-being, parents from a lower socioeconomic background have the stress of making/finding enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table etc.  Single parents can go in this category too.  The more stressed you are, the more limited you get in your thinking.  Meaning, you don’t have the time, space or the luxury to contemplate the meaning of (your) life.  This can carry over unknowingly in how a parent interacts and engages with their child.  One’s scope gets smaller under stress and that can include language. The parent may be focused on “don’t do that, you can’t do that, stop it, be quiet etc.”   If this is the most of the conversation you have with your child, then your child’s vocabulary will reflect that, limited vocabulary.  Lack of engagement also impacts the brain’s development where the brain becomes pruned in that area (no new brain networks are created), limiting their learning abilities as they grow older.  Expand your child’s language through conversation and reading and you expand their ability to learn. With each conversation, you’re  helping your child create new brain neural connections and pathways.  From an attachment perspective, when you’re reading and engaging with your child, you’re also being present with them, connecting with them.  This is something that you can do and change right now, in your own home.  Teachers can only do so much.

Which brings us to Energy.  This isn’t one of the 5 tangible senses but it’s important because it’s about being present, energetically present to your baby/child. I know it’s impossible to be 100% present 100% of the time, but in the field of attachment (connection) we’re concerned more with consistency and quality.   Many adults will often say, “My child is too young to realize what’s going on.”  Ummmm…yes they do.  Children/babies soak up their environment and their experiences through their senses and nervous system (body memory).

A parent can be physically present but not energetically/emotionally present and various behaviors can contribute to a sense of disconnect, such as depression, addiction (including workaholic), substance abuse, video games etc.   This can translate into a parent being physically present yet emotionally/energetically distant and unavailable.  Some of you reading can relate personally to this, or some of you can relate by the men/women you attract into your life.  If you’re still negating the energy aspect of this:  Think of a time you spoke to someone, a family member, partner, spouse or co-worker. As you spoke, they bobbed their head to acknowledge they were listening, however, you could feel or sense that they weren’t really listening to you. They were physically present, but not energetically present to you and you felt a disconnect in that moment.   It’s the same for a baby/child.

Lastly, smell.   Babies can identify you and connect through their sense of smell. Having a blankie with your smell on it as they go off to childcare will keep your baby connected to you through smell.

In the theory of attachment, connection is the name of the game.  Connection = Better Health.

Laughter really is the best medicine

 

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Laughter really is the best medicine.
Yes, I know it sounds cliché and much too simple, but it really is the best medicine. Laughter is actually the second best way to reduce your stress. Why do you think cat/dog videos are so popular? Because they make you feel good and laugh.

Life doesn’t always go as you planned or as you want it to. Sometimes you get served a big bowl of sh!t and still have to eat it. I know, gross.  In those times, it’s often difficult to see the silver lining or even imagine that things will get better. In those times, you can be susceptible to situational depression, consistent sadness, confusion, being in the doldrums where your perception is doom and gloom.  With enough consistency of that thought process and experience, your brain continues to play mean games with you by focusing on all the things in your life such as your work, your home, your body that are ‘wrong.’  You know, all the things that you say to yourself such as, “I have to, I need to, or I should or I can’t.”  When you are in this state, there isn’t much room for laughter because your mind won’t quit, it’s as if your mind is on a perpetual loop refusing you to relax and enjoy the moment, any moment. Hence, you create more stress, angst, and dislike toward yourself and your environment.

Here’s where laughter comes in.

Laughter breaks up that pattern. Laughter breaks up any stress pattern. Comedians are adept at this. They take painful experiences and tell it in a way that makes it funny.
Laughter actually sets off chemicals and hormones that make you feel good by increasing dopamine levels. If you’re flooded with dopamine, you’re feeling pretty good, thereby reducing your stress levels by reducing the cortisol and epinephrine in your system.  This increases your immune system and mood.

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What Joy in this little face.

The field of psychology has many theories and thought forms with positive psychology being one disciple.  Positive psychology is self-explanatory, focusing on the positive (your strengths) changes/increases your mood and overall satisfaction in life. This is a fairly different perspective than primarily focusing on problems (what’s wrong) within your therapy.  For some people, positive psychology may sound too simple, quackish or too woo-woo.  But, you don’t treat or heal trauma and stress with more trauma and stress. Doesn’t happen. That’s science.

Truth be told, there was a time in my life where I struggled with situational depression/overwhelm meaning that I was so focused on feeling sad, focused on what was wrong that I trained my brain to keep focusing on what was wrong, what needed to be fixed or changed in some way instead of what was right as it was. When I was stressed to the point of literal burnout and my health was impacted, intuitively my body turned toward joy and laughter.  I was so stressed that I literally couldn’t take in any more trauma or stress in any way, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, or energetically. Instinctively, I stopped watching or surfing the news online, if I did look at the news, it was only good news. I didn’t look at anything gruesome or violent nor any entertainment gossip. I didn’t reach for my phone first thing in the morning.  Here’s what I did. I only looked at feel good cheesy movies, good news, funny tv shows,  stand-up comedians, and movie cartoons. Although movie cartoons always make me cry, a la The Lion King etc., I laughed and enjoyed myself more often than I worried or felt stressed.

Guess what happened next?  My stress levels went down, I began to lose weight without trying, I wasn’t anxious, sad or irritable, I slept through the night, and my body began to heal.  I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the silver lining, the possibilities in my life.

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Even the President takes time to laugh…

Colleagues and friends looked at me strange after I disclosed, thinking I put my head in the sand, away from the world or lived in woo-woo land. I didn’t put my head in the sand but I did disconnect from taking in all the doom and gloom, the violence, abuse and neglect that permeates the news, many people’s experiences and the world in general.

I recommended and still recommend unplugging from stress as homework to clients. However, clients are also hesitant to do this as homework, even though they want to change their lives and experience less stress.  They often think, “How can something I see online or TV, or the conversations I have with others impact my sadness or depression?”  There is often resistance for various of reasons,

  1. It’s ‘too simple.’
  2. It’s work. Some say they want change but don’t really want to do the work.
  3. It disrupts their life in a different way, meaning it changes their life in some way.
  4. They’re stuck in their negative frame of thinking.

We are taught to believe that ‘it can’t be this simple,” but it can.

For the person who has difficulty with seeing the positive in self, life, or your environment, begin with laughter.  Laughter is contagious, it lifts your mood, helps you forget just for a moment about what’s ailing you. Laughter decreases your stress hormones and increases your feel-good chemical hormones, thereby increasing your immune system.

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For a 1 week: Shut off the news, watch only things that make you laugh or feel good. Engage in conversations that are positive.  If you find this difficult to do without hurting others’ feelings, take some alone time away from the situation or people involved if you can.  Notice what happens. Notice what happens if you find it difficult to do. Do you automatically reach for something negative, that will induce negative feelings and stress in you such as judgement, scorn, sadness, anger, apathy, or overwhelm?

I’d love to know how it goes, if you’re willing to share.

 

I love the woo-woo with a science eye.

 

Touch as Food

images-6Can you recall a time as a child when your mom/dad cradled or held you?  How about if mom/dad touched your forehead to determine if you were really telling the truth about feeling sick enough to stay home from school?  What about when you cried? Or were elated and excited about something?

Touch is the most important element in development and nourishment for life itself.  I know, some may be thinking, “Wrong! We can’t survive without food, or we’ll die.”  That’s also true.  There have been various studies on the power of touch on infants and development.  One troubling study involving infant monkeys that were fed food but touch was withheld.  The result: they withered and died. The video was and is heartbreaking, extremely painful to watch and I wouldn’t recommend it as it’s basically animal cruelty in the name of science.  Yes, all beings need food, but touch is the elixir of life.

Touch is such a powerful healing tool, but our world, especially as adults, lose that element.  As adults, we are often much more focused on work, keeping our lives and family afloat that we often forgo touch.  We get caught up in the daily grind of living and we think touch is expendable.  It’s not.  We may have spouses and partners, accessibility to touch within our grasp, but we still forego it.  Unfortunately, many children and adults don’t get touched enough or at all, by no choice of their own.  One may have grown up in a family system where “Hugs, physical nurturing and I love you’s’ were sparse if not rare, so the outward expression of love through touch may be uncomfortable.

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Touch and physical nurturing are imperative to our growth and development as children and it doesn’t stop being important just because we grow up.  Often times, people think that only the elderly suffer lack of touch, but that isn’t so.  The elderly population may be the largest population, because we are a consumer-throw-away culture of anything or anyone that gets too worn and old. However, in addition to the elderly population, lack of touch impacts children, singles, couples and the closest of long time married couples.  Couples will often report a lack of touch or sustained (intimate) eye contact with their partner.  Even the closest relationship can be devoid of hugs, hand holding or sustained eye contact, just because.

Let me be clear, the touch I’m speaking about is safe, kind and loving. Intimate touch where you connect with another in a non sexual way.  Sexual touch has many benefits, closely linked to the benefits of non sexual touch.  However, sex can often be confused and expressed as the only touch resource.

When I work with clients, using energy healing such as Reiki and cranio-sacral, I have noticed that by just holding the clients head, or placing a hand on the forehead often elicits feelings of love and sadness in addition to relaxation.  The client often remembers nurturing touch, yet realizes how much that doesn’t happen in their life presently, leading to a feeling of sadness and longing.  We are so much in our heads, our minds never stopping to the point that we negate our bodies.  I have found in my experiences that a whole session can be based around cradling the clients cranium.

There are various reasons why touch is such powerful healing tool.

  • Being touched, such as hand holding, being held, or hugged can mimic a time when you were a child being lovingly touched by your parent or caregiver.
  • Because of the previously mentioned, touch helps yourself and another to regulate your emotions.  For example, if you’re feeling sad, angry, or fearful, a touch of hand or a hug can calm you down by calming your nervous system.  You can do this for another too.
  • The body, your body, holds memories of experiences in your life that are remembered (stored) on a conscious and subconscious (body) level.  Past experiences that you think don’t currently matter or impact you, actually do.   Working through the subconscious through touch allows the deep memories and experiences that may have no language to surface.  This can assist you in becoming aware of and releasing old emotions and beliefs.
  • If you have experienced abuse (physical/sexual) or neglect (haven’t been physically/emotionally nurtured as a child), touch can help you to become re-acquainted or know what healthy nurturing touch is and what it feels like.   People who have been sexually abused can become highly sexualized and equate most touch as sexual.  Furthermore, the individual’s identity is often wrapped up in sexualization of self and others.
  • Touch build’s intimacy and trust between partners as well as parents and children and friends.
  • Touch is imperative to thriving child development.  Touch helps the brain and body to develop. Without touch for the child, the brain can atrophy in certain areas and make brain development (emotional intelligence and cognitive development) more difficult.  Lack of touch can also greatly affect a child’s immune system decreasing their physical health.

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Touch is food. Food for the mind, Food for the Body and Food for the Soul.

Whether you’re single or in relationship, recall how often you get touched in a way that feeds your depth, feeds your soul, or makes you feel loved as you are.

Mantra:

7 Hugs a day for a healthy heart.  The number is negotiable.

Exercise:

Ask someone close to you, parent, child, partner, friend for a hug.  They most likely need one too.

 

Inside the Need to Please

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Do you automatically answer “Yes!” when you’re asked to help in some way? Do you feel guilty when you say ‘No’ to someone else’s request? Do you often say yes, when you really want to say No? If you think about saying No, are you worried about what others will think of you? If you answered yes to these questions, then You, my friend, are a people pleaser.

People pleaser’s are lovely people. Everyone ‘loves’ you because you’ll do anything others ask you to.  They will bend over backwards trying to please others, to not offend others and to seek approval.

If you’re one to say Yes when you really want to say No, then most likely you’ll begin to feel resentful and taken advantage of. This often leads to being self-righteous by feeling unappreciated for ‘all the sacrifices’ you’ve made (place the back of your hand on your forehead and tilt your head back for further dramatic effect). When I hear that what I really want to do is throw my head back and let out an ‘ugh!’  I’m not pointing fingers. After all, I’ve chosen two professions in which I take care of others. I know this well.

Here’s the deal. People pleaser’s don’t realize that they’re playing the victim. However, they play the victim by blaming other’s for not acknowledging them for ‘all the things they do’ or their sacrifices.
And…here’s the kicker.  People pleaser’s actually do it to be liked, loved and accepted with the ‘don’t rock the boat’ mentality. Below this need to please, is a deep need to be loved and accepted by keeping everyone else happy.

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                  Please! Don’t Leave Me!

Most likely if you’re a people pleaser you’re probably scoffing at this idea. Saying, “I do these things out of the goodness of my heart.”  What people pleaser’s don’t realize is that people pleasing is really a form of manipulation. I know, I’m cruel but I’ll say it again. People pleasing is a form of manipulation and control.

Let me explain. You say yes because:

  1. You want to be seen as a ‘nice’ person or to be seen a certain way by others. This is manipulation. You are behaving in a way that is inauthentic to who you are and what you want thereby manipulating how others see you. It’s like you being your own Public Relations team.
  2. You want everyone to get along, no upsetting the apple cart, which translates into no confrontation of problems/issues thereby controlling the environment by controlling other people’s behavior to control the outcome.  You’re subconscious is basically screaming, “Love me, Don’t leave me!”

When you do things for others, out of the goodness of your heart, are you expecting ANYTHING in return, such as acknowledgment, help, a hug, a thank you, or approval? When you say Yes, when you really want to say No, you perform for the love, acceptance and perception of another.

Here’s the issue with the aforementioned, if you consistently people please to be ‘nice’ so you’ll be liked, you’re not being You, which leads to being resentful. But, as much as you might be resentful, angry, self-righteous and blaming other’s, you can only blame yourself.  That’s the reality.  Because you don’t have to say yes.  There’s power in that.

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What do you do to nurture yourself?

What do you do to nurture others?

 

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ANGER

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Look at this face. How can you Not love this face? How can you not chuckle? Yes, I know it’s much easier to laugh and love a cartoon character, because frankly being the recipient of someone’s anger can be down right scary.

But, in all seriousness, we’ve all been there before whether we outwardly expressed our anger or internalized it. Your boundaries were once crossed leaving you red-faced complete with a dialogue you didn’t know existed much less wanted to admit. You, at some point felt the pains of being treated unfairly or seeing someone being treated unfairly, betrayed, disrespected or simply cut-off in traffic.

Anger gets a bad wrap because many of us stay in anger much longer than its conducive for our health and relationships. If you look at the news, you will see that it’s riddled with anger and strife. We have no deficit of anger in this world, unfortunately. Anger can wreak havoc on your body, your relationships and your life.

Anger can also protect you, keep you safe and propel you to make a change.

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We all have beliefs about anger, whether it was ok for you to express your anger growing up, or you weren’t allowed to get angry, maybe you witnessed anger being used way too much or not at all. Beliefs could also sound like, “it’s not ladylike to be angry,’ ‘it’s not God-ly to be angry,’ or ‘it’s manly/macho to yell or fight.’

Whatever your beliefs are about anger, the emotion itself has positive and not so positive attributes. The light and the darkness of balance. Anger is often used as a shield from being vulnerable. Some people confuse anger with power. I’ve often seen individuals that were physically abused, disciplined by being repeatedly spanked (beaten), or experienced the rage (overpowering) of an adult (parent/caregiver) as a child, use anger as power when adults. When a child endures repeated abuse, physical ‘discipline,’ or rage, he/she is powerless to change or stop the experience. The child must endure just to survive. He/She may make a subconscious vow to themselves that they will never be powerless as an adult- hence the use of anger to overpower others and feel powerful.

Anger keeps others at a distance. Anger, if held too long can keep you from creating intimacy in your relationships. You may long to be intimate (emotionally), but to do so would mean you would have to disarm yourself and let go of your shield of anger. People relating to the person with chronic anger (long-held resentments) find it difficult to be vulnerable because it is like hugging a cactus. You can only go so far until you are repelled or pushed away.

But, if you dig a little, you’ll find what’s underneath the anger is sadness, sorrow and grief. Because of the sadness and sorrow, individuals may cling to their anger, they may become addicted to the feeling and claim anger as part of their identity. They wonder “Who would I be without this anger/resentment?’ Or they think, “I’m scared of losing control,” because the anger and sorrow/grief feel so overwhelming as if being washed over by a tidal wave.

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For all you spiritual people out there that believe, ‘its not spiritual to be angry,’ some of the most self defined spiritual people who I have come across as clients, in yoga class, sound therapy, at church etc., harbor some of the most exquisite anger. Simply because they deny it. You’re either dead or a sociopath if you don’t feel emotions. If you deny one emotion you deny them all.

Here’s the thing.

You can’t heal by denying your anger. You can’t heal by holding on to your anger either. One of my mentors and massage instructors said to me a long time ago, “The quickest way to God is through your anger.”
“What?!” I didn’t quite understand that, because I fit in the above category-denial. Not until I walked through my anger, acknowledged my anger, sat with it, felt it, to feel my grief and sorrow was I able to really open my heart. This still is a practice for me. I drive just like you do.  And I’m human.

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The burgeoning field of psychoneuroimmunology studied emotions (rage, fear) in relation to disease. They found a correlation of anger to heart attacks, high blood pressure in men and breast cancer in women. If we don’t express our anger, then it fester’s in our bodies eating away at our tissues. It is self-imposed stress on the body and mind. When a person experiences anger, circulation (oxygen and blood) is cut off from traveling to the cortex part of the brain. The cortex part of the brain is responsible for logical, rational thinking and the ability to see long-term consequences. Therefore, when a person becomes angry, they really aren’t thinking; they’re not in their right mind.

However, with any difficult subject, it’s not all doom and gloom and never one-sided. Here’s how anger is positive for us: Anger helps you fight for what we want, it helps you stand up for yourself when you’ve felt slighted and claim what you will and won’t tolerate, and anger can propel you to change if you get angry at an injustice to someone or self and you want to change the situation.

So, like this little monster above, Anger isn’t all bad, and really is just one big scared softie underneath.
Exercises:

Make a list of people who you have any anger or resentment toward. (this will probably be easy)

Make a list of the ways/reason’s you’re upset with yourself. (grab some tissues and be honest with you)

Race Belongs in an Old English Dictionary

Race_FINAL_shea_walsh_web

 

As the 4th of July ends and America celebrated its independence from Britain, with grilled meats, alcohol, and fireworks, race is and has been a hot button issue for this country for centuries. We see and hear the word race in the media; it’s uttered from the mouths of the educated, celebrities, newscasters and politicians. It’s uttered by every population, regardless of color with conviction and confidence.  Conviction and confidence that the word race is used correctly

The word ‘race’ has been near and dear to me since I was a teen. Every time I hear or see the word race to describe a peoples or population, my body bristles, because ‘race’ is an inaccurate term to describe populations. Race has never described me, my family or any of my friends, colleagues or co-workers.

I gave a speech last week on race. When I first asked the group what their first thought was when I mentioned culture, I didn’t really get a response except “yogurt.” Um. Yeah. Cute. And moving right along. Other than that response, the group shook their heads side to side not knowing how to respond. Then I asked the group to name the first thing that came to mind when I said race. All I got were crickets.  I didn’t expect silence, so I became concerned or wondered how this group would take this speech. I wondered if they thought to themselves, “Not this again!” But, I asked again. This time the group responded with: “food, dance, music, culture, and language.” Nope. What they described was culture, not race.

Here’s the reality of race used to describe specific and different populations. It DOES NOT exist, yet we, as a country, as a society continue to use an outdated, archaic word that was created as a means to separate and divide people. In fact, ‘race’ has no scientific basis or significance. World renowned anthropologist, Dr. Audrey Smedley stated in 1997,

Race ideology was a mechanism justifying what had already been established as unequal social groups; it was from its inception, and is today, about who should have access to privilege, power, status, and wealth, and who should not. As a useful political ideology for conquerors, it spread into colonial situations around the world….and Race has no intrinsic relationship to human biological diversity, that such diversity is a natural product of primarily evolutionary forces while ‘race’ is a social invention.”

(Anthropology Newsletter, Nov. 1997).

courtesy of understanding race.org

courtesy of understandingrace.org

Anthropologists and genetic biologists agree that there is only one race, and it’s Human. Period.  End of story.

I have a personal stake in this.  Growing up, I was asked at various times and well into adulthood, “What are you?” Depending on how irritated I was by this question, I’d either answer with “excuse me?’ or “Human.” I grew up in a multicultural household, my father is black American (from the South) and my mother is white Scandinavian (Swedish) to be exact. By all accounts I would respond with, “mixed; black and white,” Not mixed-race or biracial. Mixed-race implies being a product of mixing different species. Incorrect. Mixed race would be splicing the DNA of two distinct species together such as a cat and a dog. Imagine that!

My parents aren’t two different species. They are two different people: two different genders, two different personalities, two different colors, from two different cultures and two different continents. It’s that simple.

I see differences in cultural aspects, religious worship, food, language and I see differences in physical features and color. They are only variations and opportunities for me to learn and experience.

 

courtesy of understandingrace.org

courtesy of understandingrace.org

 

Have you ever wondered what America would be like if we didn’t use race as a description? What if we stopped using it all together and instead used the correct, scientific word/words.

Instead of Race Relations, we simply called it Human Relations.
Instead of Race Riots, we called them Human Riots. Notice, it sounds very similar to Human Rights.
Instead of interracial, we named it intercultural or interhuman.
Instead of racism, we simply called it colorism, bigotry, prejudice or hate-ism.

Since race is completely a social construct, created by us humans, then we have the power to dismantle it. It may feel daunting and overwhelming but what if we started small, something that we can control? We can start by changing our language. If we stop using ‘race’ as a definition or description, we will be forced to individually look at our own prejudices and stereotypes that we hold as well as our ingrained belief(s) and need that we are separate or better.

So, here’s a challenge for you. The next time you hear or see the word race used to describe a peoples or population either in the news, media or by friends, family or colleagues, mentally interject Human in place of race and notice what happens. Does the story change? How about the perception of the event or people involved? You don’t need to do this out loud, this is a challenge strictly for you.

 

Many Blessings!